DREAM FC is having their first event outside of Japan in April and luckily for me it's going to be in Seoul. Daegu MMA is planning a big "family trip" to go watch which should be tons of fun. No idea yet about who's on the card but hopefully they put some of the big names on it.
Real Korean Dinner
On Friday I stayed and trained at the club pretty late. As I was leaving some of the Koreans asked if I wanted to go for family dinner with them. They took me to a little restaurant down the street. The word restaurant is a bit flattering. The place had two actual walls while the other two were made from a heavy duty clear plastic tarp. The tables were old oil drums flipped upside down with a coal burner in the middle. These places are pretty common in Korea, but it's hard to go in and order if you don;t speak Korean very well. I like having Korean friends who take me to legitimately Korean places. I know some people here who pretty much stick to the foreign community and never experience a lot of the cool things Korea has to offer.
There are four 15 and 16 year old kids that train at Daegu MMA everyday. They're pretty damn good. Before I leave I`ll be writing down their names to keep for future reference; I think we might be hearing from some of them in the future. One kid in particular cracks me up. He calls himself `little GSP`. I call him `monkey boy`. He loves the UFC more than anything and makes me laugh all the time. He does some hilarious impressions of some UFC fighters. I tried to get him to do a few but he was a little camera shy and only did two of them. Check it out, I think his Anderson Silva and Dan Henderson takes are pretty on point.
Lil' Korean buddy from Brent Fryia on Vimeo.
For the last few months all of the guys from Daegu MMA have been telling me that I should test for my blue belt before I leave to go home. I thought that would be a great idea and told them that I would do it. Then they kept hassling me about. Again. And again. And. Again. At least once a week someone would remind me about it. I know there are belt tests every two months so I wasn't too worried about it. Last Tuesday they told me that there was a test on Sunday that I should go to. I told them that I didn't think I was ready to test for my blue belt at which point they informed me that I had to test for my FIRST STRIPE on my white belt. Silly me, I was under the impression that you tested for your blue belt and if you didn't get it you were awarded however many stripes the instructors thought you deserved. I don't know why I thought that, but i did. I should have known there was no cutting the line here, especially since there's guys here who have been white belts for over two years.
The belt test was administered by a visiting black belt, Jae Hoon (brown belt) and Un Sik (purple belt). There were a few guys from our club testing for various stripes and my friend Yeung Sey testing for his blue belt. there were also 8 or 10 guys from other clubs who were testing for various stripes of white and another guy who was testing for his blue belt. The group was split into 2. The first group was for anyone testing for their first or second stripe white belt and everyone else was in the second group. Each group had about a half hour technique session where they were asked by the upper belts to demonstrate various guard passes, sweeps, submission and proper positional control. Even thought the test for one stripe was very basic it was actually nice to spend that much time working on some fundamental stuff.
After the technique session each group had a 25 minute sparring session with rotating partners. This is where Being with the lower level group I felt a little bit like Adam Sandler in 'Billy Madison'. You know that scene where he says `now you`re all in BIG, BIG trouble!` That`s how I felt. When I spar with the younger or less experienced guys I usually give up some positions and work from a disadvantage. This day was a little different because of the testing. I went pretty hard and didn`t cut anybody any slack. When my group was finished the evaluators moved me into the more advanced group for sparring. That was fine by me as I wasn`t too keen to sit around watching for a half hour and I usually spar with the upper level belts anyways.
After the evaluation the instructors conferred for a while while we layed around and stretched out. Eventually they called everyone t line up for the awarding of belts and stripes. There was a lot of bowing and traditional stuff going on that I had no idea about. I did my best to just follow what the guys next to me were doing and not look like a pumpkin in a watermelon patch. When I was awarded my sad, lonely little stripe on my belt all of the older guys from the club laughed at me. Fair enough, I think most of the guys that I tested with were more concerned about their 10th grade math test than their jiu jitsu belt test. When Un Sik gave me the stripe on my belt he said Ì think you four stripes but today one stripe`, which at least let me know were I stood in terms of actual ability. At least if I test every two months until I leave I`ll have all 4 stripes and will be able to test for my blue belt as soon as I get back to Canada.
It`s interesting to note that not everyone was awarded the rank they were testing for. Yeung Sey did get his blue belt which was a pretty big deal, but the guy who came from one of the other clubs did not. It`s nice to know that it isn`t a `pay and get your belt`kind of deal and that everything has to be earned.
Something I love about Korea.
Dedicated space to run and play. Space is at a premium in Korea. The country is about the size of southern Ontario, is 70% mountains and has 50 million people. Needless to say buildings expand vertically, not horizontally. Despite this, almost every middle and high school has beautiful full sized turf fields and fully rubberized tracks. When not being used by the schools these playgrounds are a freee for al for anyone to play whatever game or sport they choose. There are always young kids with their parents playing some games, old folks walking the track and some serious athletes training all in the same place. it`s pretty cool to see a country recognize the importance of physical activity and set aside space specifically for that purpose, even when it would be wildly profitable to use the space for something else.
A typical school field near my house where I occasionally go to run, kick a ball or throw a frisbee.
Something I hate about Korea
Bath towels. Towels here are about the size of a dollar bill and just as absorbent. That`s fine if you`re Korean. Koreans have less body hair as adults than I did when I was born. Most of them could probably just dry themselves with a squeegee, so the tiny towels are probably ok. If, on the other hand, youve ever been mistaken for a throw rug, like I have, these things just don`t cut it. I`m glad we brought a few regular towels when we came.